Physiological effects of cabbage with reference to its potential as a dietary cancer-inhibitor and its use in ancient medicine

J Ethnopharmacol. 1983 Dec;9(2-3):261-72. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(83)90035-1.


Interest in the potential of cabbage and other Brassica species as possible dietary cancer-inhibitors has been expressed. Preliminary data in support of this include the following: dietary cabbage has been reported to enhance the aromatic hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHH) microsomal enzyme system and increase the rate of metabolism of certain drugs and carcinogens and to affect chemically-induced tumor formation. Bacterial studies also indicate that cabbage has demutagenic activity in the Ames assay. Cabbage has also been reported to have a protective effect against radiation exposure. In addition, cabbage has been shown to have a variable ability to induce goiter formation in otherwise healthy laboratory animals. Other effects discussed in the literature include an affect on blood sugar, gastric secretion and antibacterial activity. Reference is made to claims found in ancient herbal literature regarding cabbage's alleged therapeutic benefit in putatively cancerous conditions.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Brassica*
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Gastric Juice / metabolism
  • Goiter / etiology
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Rats


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Blood Glucose
  • Radiation-Protective Agents